Do choose your defensive guns based on caliber or platform?

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Dec 25, 2002
Columbia, MD
I don't want a caliber war here, it doesn't really answer my question. I don't really care if you are a 9mm guy, a .45acp guy, an intermediate caliber gal, or whatever. Sure, for this discussion you may have to mention if you have a preference, but please don't go much more into it, and certainly don't comment on other people's preferences (so what if some people prefer "light and fast" or "big holes only" or "are comfortable with them all- placement placement placement"). I want to know how you choose your carry/HD guns.

Are you a caliber guy/gal who chooses your guns based on what is available in that caliber, or do you pick the gun you like best ("I shoot it best", "it fits me best", "it is comfortable to carry", "I like its history", "it looks best", etc) and the gun determines your caliber?

For me, I am comfortable with all the major calibers so I go more for platform. The gun I shoot best, or that I simply feel like loading up for HD (and when in a carry state to carry) is the one I go with. I have a CZ 75B in 9mm that I'm happy with, I love 1911s so I do .45acp, I love K-frame revolvers (.38 and .357). When I carry I will probably usually carry a snub so that means .38+P (unless I change to a 9mm or .32mag snub), and a 3" K-frame (.38 and .357 mostly, though there are some .44spl K-frame sized guns from Taurus out there). I have pretty much never limited myself to certain calibers, I pick the guns I've liked and the caliber followed from there.
I'm a platform kind of guy. For defensive purposes I only use DA revovlers or DAO pistols. Right now, the only pistol I employ is a NAA Guardian .32 for pocket carry, my other defensive guns are S&W .357's. In the event of needing to actually use a gun I don't want to have to do anything but point and shoot and when it's over I don't want to have to fumble with making it safe while my hands are shaking. Another very important criteria for me is that the gun must be a natural point and shoot. It has to feel and shoot like an extension of my hand.
In my case, both; but with a twist.

I like 9mm, but that isn't the reason I chose it as I'll carry .45 too.

The platform is Glock; simply, they're reliable as heck in 9mm, pretty much weather proof, and they carry a lot of rounds. To me, capacity is very important as I learned a hard lesson once. So, it's not so much the caliber as capacity. That said, I'll carry a 1911 too. Just with more spare mags.

Now, I'm sure someone will chime up with the argument that civilian gunfights, statistically, don't get much beyond 3 or 4 rounds so why burden yourself with anything more than a 5 shot? Because Mr. Murphy shows up at the darndest times.

I'm sure that doesn't help.
I choose the make. In my case I find that I shoot Sigs pretty fair and I have total trust in them. I prefer the 45, but if somebody issued me a 229/226/239 in 9mm or 40 I'd carry it.
My choice is cal first (.45ACP) followed by platform...

First new autoloader was a KP-90 Ruger, and I now also have a Springy 1911-A1.

Part of that is I only have 1 .357 revo, a Sheriff's Model Vaquero. My snubby .38 is an old Rohm/RG, and I don't want to stuff some really hot ammo in that.

I have 1911s in .45acp, 38super, and .380.

I want the same controls on a weapon, no matter what it's chambered for, so when the SHTF I'm not doing mental gymnastics trying to remember what gun I'm carrying and what I have to do to fire it.

For a defensive gun it's all important to me so I would say both.
For a defensive gun it's all about platform:

1) Reliability - if it don't go !BANG! when you pull the trigger you might as well not carry it. This is why I choose to carry a Glock.

2) If you can't hit what you're aiming at then you're better off running away (which - given a choice - might be the best choice anyway - but then that's another thread) or begging for mercy. I'm more accurate with a 9mm or .45ACP but chose .40S&W because I like it's ballistic characteristics and power. At ranges less than 15 yards I point shoot without ever acquiring a sight picture and can put 3 rounds COM (8" group at 15 yards and 2" to 4"group at 7 yards) in about 2 seconds and that's good enough.

A full size .45 is too big for for concealed carry in my opinion and the 9mm I have (CZ-75B) just doesn't feel right IWB and is a bit heavier than my Glock.

So for me it all boils down to platform.
As long as it goes bang reliably---a well placed shot will do the trick---9mm---.40---.45------doesn't matter much.

I generally avoid .45's simply because of ammo cost---no other reason.
All other more important things aside, I go for caliber first.

Gaining skill is mostly practice, so I go with rounds that are cheap enough for me to constantly use at the range, while still being effective in the street. My defensive choices will always be chambered in .38, 9mm or .45.

Platform comes second, assuming that all of the more important issues (reliability, shootability, etc..) are taken care of. Some I like more than others [S&W, Taurus (revolvers), Sig, HK, FN, CZ(autos)]. When it comes down to it, I will carry what I like. I don't think Colt or Glock make bad products, per se, just I like the others more.
Platform first, caliber second.

That said, my favored platform for most uses (1911) is available in almost any caliber. Including 10mm Auto. :D
I’m a platform person, with a caveat. I have carried for 12 years now and I have decided that if a platform is comfortable and reliable than I am very happy to carry that platform as long as the caliber is adequate. I find my Kahr much more comfortable than most other handguns to carry. It is very reliable and very accurate so I carry it instead of my one of my 1911s.

Started off as a caliber person (had to be .45 ACP) thanks to TFL, I have come around. Now I'm 100% platform oriented (P7M8 - 'low' capacity, minor cartridge, hard to argue the emphasis isn't on platform.). The USP I keep because of caliber and I am familiar with it's operation.

I think the best of both worlds will be the 1911 that I keep dreaming of... some day...

Platform for sure. With rifles I'm more concerned about cartridge, but I see little difference between the standard handgun cartridges so I look for ease of handling and accuracy--especially at three AM.
First let me say thank you guys for keeping this in the spirit of how I asked it- I'm very happy to see no arguments have begun.

It is interesting the number of "platform" people out there- I'd have expected a few more "caliber", though when you read the whole response a lot of the "platform" people probably are better described as "both".

Anyway, I wrote this pretty early in the morning so I left some clarification of my answer out.

I said I was a "platform" guy, which is true, but as you can see from my post I'm not a very discriminating "platform" guy :D. I do have some preferences though. If I like the gun and it feels good and is accurate (for me) and reliable I may choose it. However, I have one more criteria- manual of arms.

For now I like 1911s and revolvers best so it has to be similar to those. If it is an auto it must have a safety that works like the 1911's (up is safe, down is fire) or be DAO for a revolver-like MOA. I am undecided about DA/SA autos with the S&W style safety and leaving them uncocked but off safe. I'm concerned that if my hand feels "auto" and I feel a safety lever I may automatically try to take it off safe by pushing the lever down thereby actually activating the safety in a SD/HD situation.:what:
I'd have to say I'm a platform guy. I have carried .380 autos when I knew that the pistol in question would go bang EVERY TIME, and that I could hit with it. The ultimate, .500 cal, +P+, super expanding, semi-armor piercing, HE, smart bullet is worthless if your launcher won't work and you can't get it down range.

I currently carry a Beretta 96FS as my primary SD pistol. When I got it, I took it to the range and wrung it out with several types of ammo. It worked with everything I fed it, and I was able to put the lead where I wanted it, so now I trust it and carry it.
I’d have to say platform, but like a lot of others, my favorite platforms don’t really limit my cartridge choice. The only caliber choice that is dictated by a platform is my 442.
Is it a coincidence or......................

am I just missing the point? Those guns that are considered to be among the "best" [reliability, quality, etc.] almost always have a solid choice among calibers. Even the venerable 1911 platform can be had in 40 S & W, 9mm, and 38 Super as well as 45 ACP. SIG and CZ, for instance, have solid choices in a number of calibers. So, the question of caliber OR platform first is really a non question. It is just a matter of preference and choice. Good shooting;)
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I chose a Beretta because they look good. I like the platform and the history leaves no doubt how reliable they are.

Just don't go taking that thing out in a sand storm. I'm sure more than a few our guys and gals in Iraq would choose something else.

Me, I'm more of a platform type of guy. In semi-autos I prefer 1911 and glock type(kahr) actions in Revolver I like DA/SA.

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